Tuesday, April 24, 2012

For less than 1 severance deal, Guild seeks Times pact for 1,100 - Newspaper Guild of New York


After Times management representatives indicated in the last negotiating session that there would be no contract without a freeze of the current pension plan, Guild negotiators today responded with a comprehensive financial package that lays out precisely what it would take to reach a fair labor agreement.

The Guild’s proposal would cost The Times far less annually than the $24.4 million severance package it gave former CEO Janet Robinson in December. In other words, for much less than it cost to pay out one departing executive, 1,100 Guild members would receive a year of fair wage increases and maintain their health and retirement benefits.

The proposal represents an increase of only $8 million to $10 million from what the company is already spending. And that doesn’t include substantial cost-saving steps to which the Guild has already agreed, like cutting time-and-a-half pay for the first five hours of weekly overtime to straight time pay, a 33 percent reduction. 

Here are the highlights of the Guild bargaining committee’s proposed financial package over the course of a five-year contract (every percentage point equals approximately $1 million): 
  • 4 percent annual raises, including retroactive pay to 2011.
  • A continuation of the current estimated spending of 10 percent of payroll for retirement benefits.
  • A phased-in increase of 4 to 6 percentage points added to The Times’s longstanding 6.06 percent contribution to the Guild-Times health care fund, increases that would bring the company’s health care costs closer to the industry standard.
The Guild package also maintains its proposals on a profit sharing plan, additional personal days, family illness days and the faster accrual of vacation days.

The Guild has, from the start, maintained that all it seeks is a fair contract for Times employees. This proposal reflects that objective.

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